Thursday, May 31, 2012
Christian First, Missionary Second
One thing that has helped me over the years is having the right perspective about who I am. My identity first and foremost is who I am in Christ, I am a Christian. After my identity as a child of God comes the plan God has for my life; because I am His child I go to Him to see what it is He wants me to do. However, if I get these two things mixed up I might have some problems.
As someone who lives and works for God in a country that is not their country of origin I am usually referred to as a missionary. As I wrote about in a previous blog, the word missionary is used to identify people who actually do many different things but generally a missionary is someone who lives in a country they do not originate from. No matter what work a missionary may do, or what anyone might do for that matter, our work does not define us. And no matter where we live, our location does not define us; it is our relationship to God that matters.
One problem that missionaries have had in the past is that rather than go to evangelize and teach others, missionaries have gone to countries and worked more to change customs and culture than they have to promote God and His Word. When living in another country where things may be different than what we are used to it can be tempting to only focus on trying to make others like us and not to make them disciples like Jesus talked about in Matthew 28:18-20. This focusing on changing customs and culture without changing people normally ends in failure and frustration.
Many missionaries, spiritual leaders, and other people working for God get "burned out" because they are focusing on the wrong things. Too often people are missionaries first and Christians second or even, Americans first and Christians second. While I am very thankful for the work God has called me to and I certainly do appreciate my country of origin, my plan is to focus first of all on being a Christian and to let everything else come into line after that. In my view that is the way to be successful as a missionary or in anything else we might do for God.